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Following the release of his third album 'Starboy', we look back at the first three chapters of his life.
Tesfaye explained the origin of his stage name in a Reddit Q&A with fans: "I left home when I was about 17 dropped out of high school and convinced Lamar [XO crew member] to do the same lol. We grabbed our mattresses from our parents threw it in our friends s****y van and left one weekend and never came back home... I hated my name at the time though so I tried it as a stage name. It sounded cool. I took out the "e" because there was already a canadian band named the weekend."
Some have claimed that XO simply stands for hugs and kisses, while others argue the letters represent the drugs ecstasy and oxycontin. Given that XO is part of the slogan "XO 'til we overdose" the latter seems more feasible.
"I just love Bowie, I think he’s the ultimate inventor,” he told WSJ.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, the Canadian singer said: "I gave up almost half of my album [to Drake]. It’s hard. I will always be thankful—if it wasn’t for the light he shined on me, who knows where I’d be. And everything happens for a reason. You never know what I would say if this success wasn’t in front of me now." Picture: Getty
Tesfaye told Complex that all three tracks were originally planned for his debut until Drake heard them. "I wanted to come out with like 14 records. I felt like “The Ride” was the last one, and it wasn’t done yet. [Drake] heard it… and he liked it so much, he was like, 'I need to have this, man…'," he said.
“You hear it mostly in my voice,” he told Vman. “I’ve been told my singing isn’t conventional. Ethiopian music was the music I grew up on, artists like Tilahun Gessesse, Aster Aweke, and Mahmoud Ahmed. These are my subconscious inspirations. ‘The Hills’ was the first time you actually heard the Ethiopian language in my music. It will definitely be key on [Starboy]."
The Weeknd recently confirmed during a Reddit AMA that he spells his name without the "e" because of copyright issues. He said: "I hated my name [at the start of my career] so I tried it as a stage name. It sounded cool. I took out the 'e' because there was already a Canadian band named the weekend."
When three tracks - 'What You Need', 'Loft Music', and 'The Morning' - credited to The Weeknd first appeared on YouTube in late 2010, little was known about the artist behind them. In 2012 more details gradually emerged and The Weeknd was revealed to be the stage name of singer Abel Tesfaye. Born in Toronto, Canada, Tesfaye is 25.
His real name is Abel Tesfaye. Picture: Getty
Tesfaye found fame through a trio of self-released mixtapes he released in 2011, named 'House of Balloons', 'Thursday' and 'Echoes of Silence'. They were later remastered and reissued together as the compilation album 'Trilogy', along with three additional songs, in 2012.
The titular domicile of The Weeknd's debut mixtape actually exists according to Tesfaye. He revealed that the address is 65 Spencer in Parkdale, Toronto in a Reddit Q&A. The ominous looking place pictured is what comes up on Google's Street View at that location.
"From when I was born to when I was 21, I never left Toronto," Tesfaye told Complex. "That’s why I’m such a city cat. 'Trilogy' is my experiences in those four walls."
Tesfaye denied there's any bad blood between the two despite his decision not to sign to Drake's OVO Sound label. "I told him from day one what my decision was going to be," said Tesfaye in Complex, "I wasn’t going that route. I was going to go my own route. And he supported me."
According to Tesfaye: "A lot of it is inspired by filmmakers like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott, because they know how to capture fear. That’s what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that’s just honest fear… So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I’m feeling. Kiss Land is like a horror movie."
"The title came from a conversation that I overheard and those words stuck out," Tesfaye has revealed, "Someone said, 'Kiss Land' and I thought, 'That’s going to be the title of my album.' It sounds so ridiculous. When I put [the title] out everyone was like, 'What the hell? This is going to be corny. It’s going to be all lovey-dovey.'”
He covered MJ's 'Dirty Diana' on his third mixtape 'Echoes of Silence'.
While he might share some very personal details in his songs, his private life remains a mystery. Following his relationship with Bella Hadid, the Canadian has reportedly moved on with singer Selena Gomez.